A Commercial Use of Carbon Dioxide
Burning or Oxidation
If a lighted splinter is thrust into a test tube containing carbon dioxide, it is promptly extinguished, because carbon dioxide cannot support combustion; if a stream of carbon dioxide and water falls upon a fire, it acts like a blanket, covering the flames and extinguishing them. The value of a fire extinguisher depends upon the amount of carbon dioxide and water which it can furnish. A fire extinguisher is a metal case containing a solution of bicarbonate of soda, and a glass vessel full of strong sulphuric acid. As long as the extinguisher is in an upright position, these substances are kept separate, but when the extinguisher is inverted, the acid escapes from the bottle, and mixes with the soda solution. The mingling liquids interact and liberate carbon dioxide. A part of the gas thus liberated dissolves in the water of the soda solution and escapes from the tube with the outflowing liquid, while a portion remains undissolved and escapes as a stream of gas. The fire extinguisher is therefore the source of a liquid containing the fire-extinguishing substance and further the source of a stream of carbon dioxide gas.
FIG. - Inside view of a fire extinguisher.